By John Carruthers, staff writer, November 01, 2012
Dermatologist Jennifer Tan, MD, was passionately involved in providing health care to Boston’s homeless population in her residency days, organizing the dermatology clinic at the South End Community Health Center and setting up integration with the residents. Later, she discovered the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) and helped integrate the program formally into the Harvard Dermatology residency training program, along with dermatologist Ernesto Gonzalez, MD. Presently, as the director of community outreach for Brigham and Women’s Hospital, she is able to help grow her prior volunteer passion in a formal role.
“Volunteerism and community outreach have been an important part of my life since my college years, when I first learned about the disparities present in health care.”
- The most important goal of BHCHP, Dr. Tan said, is to provide high-quality dermatologic and medical care in a compassionate environment.
- “I have volunteered because it was the best way that I could contribute toward correcting this issue,” Dr. Tan said. “It has also afforded me the opportunity to learn directly about the community around me, and has taught me important lessons in humanity, humility, and social awareness.”
- The response among the dermatology residents has been positive. In a survey, 90 percent rated their experience at BHCHP as good or outstanding. Further, 100 percent reported that they thought the experience provided a valuable service, and that they would like it to continue to be included in their residency education.
- “Dr. Gonzalez and I have worked together over the past two and a half years to build the collaborative dermatology clinic at BHCHP,” Dr. Tan said. “Such experiences in the community have enriched my life and professional development in ways that cannot be matched in any classroom, academic clinic, or hospital.”
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